Short Answer: When you want to enter the modeling industry, it is encouraged that you get an early start on your career. Instead of waiting for a scout to find you, you can proactively gain experience with jobs like modeling for stock photos, working as a brand ambassador, modeling for local stores, seeking clients on your own, or signing with an agency. Below, we list the legitimate modeling gigs you can start as a teenager to help you learn your craft and gain experience.
The List of Modeling Jobs for Teenagers
The following are all legitimate options for teenagers to get started in modeling or closely related jobs. Keep in mind that it is virtually impossible to compare exact payment amounts because each role has a different compensation structure (e.g., paying per hour, per project, etc.), and the amount you can earn will also vary depending on how much time you are willing and able to put into the work. We’ve ordered the list below starting with the most accessible options for teenagers just getting started in the modeling industry.
Sell Your Stock Photos Online
There are several credible sites where you can sell your stock photos and videos for licensing and use by other companies. When someone uses the image, you receive a royalty. The royalty amount and photo requirements vary by company, but your share of the profit can be anywhere from 15% for a still photo sold with Getty Images to 60% for exclusive contributors with Dreamstime. Note that some sites may require you to be 18 to contribute to their photo collections, while others allow anyone to contribute.
Many professional photographers get their start or make extra side income on these websites, too. Websites that accept submissions for stock photos include:
- iStock by Getty Images
- Can Stock Photo
Become a Brand Ambassador
If you have a friendly and outgoing personality, becoming a brand ambassador may be a good fit for you. A brand ambassador is someone who is hired to represent a brand in a positive light, thereby bringing awareness to the company and building trust with customers. This type of work often comes in the form of modeling and/or demonstrating products.
Typically, these are jobs that take place at events like music festivals and trade shows, and many brands also hire social media ambassadors. These are usually part-time, contract, or pay-per-post roles. If you have a large social media following or you are willing to work to spread brand awareness, this can be a good job for you. A few retailers and companies that hire young brand ambassadors include:
- Abercrombie & Fitch
- One Tribe Apparel
- Pura Vida
- The Ambassador Company (partners with multiple brands)
- Trek Light Gear
- Unemployed Denim
- Victoria’s Secret PINK
You can also find brand ambassador gigs on sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Craigslist. You can even check with your favorite stores and companies to see if they work directly with ambassadors.
Model for Local Stores
Local stores often need models for in-store events and advertising campaigns. Costume shops like Party City, department stores like JCPenney and Macy’s, and local boutiques need models for their print ads, events, and social media posts. These may not be the most glamorous roles, but they will provide exposure and you can add them to your resume/portfolio.
These modeling jobs are typically not posted on the store’s career webpage. You can visit a local mall to ask about current or upcoming openings, check job listings in your local newspapers, or check Craigslist and other online sources.
When searching for modeling jobs online, be sure to check that the jobs are posted by legitimate stores. You can search for ratings and reviews at the Better Business Bureau, Indeed, Glassdoor, and other sites.
You should always try to confirm the details of the job by phone or email before making any commitments, and be sure that you don’t give out your personal information until you know the opportunity is legitimate. Be wary of postings that offer unreasonably high rates.
Become an Entrepreneur
If you really want to pursue modeling as a career, you can be your own advocate and actively pursue clients to build your portfolio. You can start by collecting a selection of high-quality shots taken by skilled photographers. Reach out to photographers in your area on Instagram, on Model Mayhem, or by doing a Google search for professional photographers in your area.
Once you have a variety of photos, put together an online portfolio. Social media has also become an important tool for self-promotion and scouting in modeling. When choosing between two equally talented models, the one with more followers is likely to get the job in today’s market, according to representatives from Wilhelmina Models in an interview with StyleCaster. Your social media — especially your Instagram profile — should represent your “brand” and your personality.
With your portfolio prepared, you can begin reaching out to brands. You can pitch yourself and your personal brand, as well as concepts that you think will catch a brand’s attention. Tag brands you want to work with in your Instagram posts or find the email or LinkedIn profile of someone who works in the PR or marketing department.
Sign With an Agency
A more traditional route for starting a career in modeling is to find an agency near you that is looking to hire young models and get an agent to agree to represent you. This process is selective, and agents can take a large portion of your earnings, but they will be able to the hard work of locating clients for you.
First, know what type of modeling you want to do. There are agencies specifically for fashion modeling (i.e., runways, fashion shows), and those for commercial modeling (i.e., online and print ads, TV commercials). Once you know what you’re looking for, you can search online for modeling agencies near you that fit your interests. Take a look at current models and campaigns to see if the agency’s work matches your style and marketability.
Many agencies will have their own process for submitting applications and headshots — make sure that you have high-quality photos that match an agency’s specifications before you apply.
If you’re willing to put in the effort and get creative, there are plenty of ways to gain experience with modeling as a teen. You can model for stock photos, become a brand ambassador, model for local store advertisements and events, create relationships with brands as an entrepreneur, or sign with an agency if you want someone to find the work for you. If you choose to sell stock photos, model for local stores, or search for clients on your own, you will have the most flexibility in the types of roles you take on. However, if you’re willing to submit to a selective application process and have another brand or company dictate your work for you, consider becoming a brand ambassador or signing with an agency.